INDIA: Salesian Priest in India Receives State Award Gold Medal for Excellence in Youth Work
(MissionNewswire) Salesian Father Cyriac Pulinthanathumalayil of India’s Dimapur province received a state award Gold Medal for Excellence in Youth Work from the country’s home minister Minister Rajanath Signh at a function on Feb. 20 in the state capital of Itanagar, according to an article on Radio Vatican. The event was attended by several dignitaries from India including Chief Minister Pema Khandu who in 2007 visited the youth center started by Fr. Pulinthanathumalayil.
“I appreciate the Don Bosco Youth Center in Itanagar, which has for many years been channeling youth’s potential, enabling them to live a dignified life. I am happy that most of the graduate trainees from the center have been able to secure a livelihood for themselves,” said Chief Minister Khandu at the award ceremony.
Fr. Pulinthanathumalayil received the recognition for his work in northeastern India where he has been working with poor youth for the last 16 years. He set up the first youth center at Khonsa in East Arunachal, district headquarters of Borduria, in 2000 followed by the Don Bosco Youth Center in Itanagar in 2007. These youth centers provide critical skills training in subjects like computers, hospitality, spoken English language and other soft skills that help youth gain long-term employment. Access to professional training and workforce development services is highly valued by youth in India given the current state of the country’s economy.
According to the International Labor Organization’s Global Employment Trends 2015 Report, India experienced a sharp slowdown in the economy during 2012 and 2013 when growth dropped below 5 percent. The economy grew slightly faster in 2014 reaching 5.4 percent, reflecting an improvement in the growth rate of the services sector and a better monsoon season than originally anticipated. However, the unemployment rate for youth is remaining flat after having risen 3.6 percent in 2012 and in 2013 to 3.7 percent.
The training programs collaborate with other major vocational training providers in the country to better help connect youth to programs that fit their interest and skills level. In addition to providing career guidance for youth, Fr. Pulinthanathumalayil also follows up with them throughout their training by visiting them and providing them with additional counseling and support. Fr. Pulinthanathumalayil manages the Childline hotline for youth in distress in Itanagar, where he has also established a Literacy Center and Computer Center with a library as well as a Residential Skill Development Training Center with residential facilities for 100 boys and girls.
“His novel idea of developing the trainees` personality and leadership skills during a residential, motivational, soft skills training program before venturing out of the state for further specialized training and placement, has enhanced the success rate of the government`s skill training programs,” said Public Health Engineering Minister Bamang Felix in the Vatican Radio article.
Looking to expand and grow the programs, Fr. Pulinthanathumalayil has plans to start construction of the Dorjee Khandu Annex in memory of the chief minister’s late father, who was the former chief minister of Arunachal. The new facility will have administrative block, smart class rooms, computer rooms, mini-conference hall, labs for hospitality and beauty training, and a gym.
India is home to one-third of the world’s poor with 37 percent of India’s 1.21 billion people falling below the international poverty line. Close to 50 percent of the population doesn’t have proper shelter with 70 percent without access to proper bathroom and sanitation facilities. The country is also home to more than 30 percent of nearly 385 million children living in extreme poverty, the highest in South Asia.
India’s youth face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44 percent of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10 percent of the working-age population has completed a secondary education. In addition, many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.
Vatican Radio – India’s home minister honors Salesian priest’s youth work
UNICEF – India Poverty